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Images of War : Monte Cassino

Images of War : Monte Cassino

Jeffrey Plowman
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
When I first saw this book, I fully expected to find it composed of photographic plates with a few words about the images and perhaps a small introduction, rather like a coffee table book. However I was pleasantly surprised, not having seen this particular format of book before to find that the author Jeffrey Plowman has researched his subject thoroughly and has spent a great deal of time sourcing previously unseen images from public archives and private collections, that in itself takes a great deal of hard work and skill, and his long interest in military history, and previous books must have helped open a few doors for him, all of the images are of very high quality, many being official photographs taken during and after the battles, and some very good amateur photographs around 210 of them and 3 very easy to read maps of the campaign

Of the many books I have read about Monte Cassino, very few mention the role of the armoured forces, most seemed to concentrate on the Infantry and aircraft, and the vast number of Polish servicemen buried there testify to just how hard it was to defeat the occupying army

I had not thought about the difficulties of trying to drive tanks into the area, having only ridden there on a motorcycle but as many of the images show, the deep ravines, rivers, narrow tracks, and boggy ground caused so many breakdowns that the surviving tanks had a very hard time of it.


This gives us an overview of the area concerned and specific details about the mountain ranges. I also learnt that the Italian Military College had long regarded Monte Cassino as a fine example of a natural fortress, something the German Army soon picked up on.

The book is divided into ten chapters each one covering a different phase of the landings and the invasion and the different regiments involved and their actions, alongside pictures giving a fantastic amount of detail, tank numbers, models, regiments, tank crews, captured tanks used by the Germans and modified tanks.

It also goes into great detail about the actions of the defending army, and a few of the war crimes they committed; also included are pictures of the German armour and weapons, plus many of the tank recovery vehicles and earth moving machines that tend to stay in the background in the history books. I was surprised to learn that a few tanks had simply been buried post war in the rebuilding of the town. If you fancy digging one up the information here will help to locate one?

Actions covered are the road to Cassino, the Gustav line and the attempts to break through it; the many attempts at getting near the monastery and the defensive methods employed by the Germans.

The New Zealand forces actions are featured along with the Indian troops, the French, the Americans and the English and how many of them merged and overlapped with each other to cover weak spots or losses. The third battle of Monte Cassino, the Cavendish road attack, Operation Diadem, the Coastal sector, The Arinci mountains, The Liri Valley and finally the taking of Monte Cassino plus an overall appraisal of the battle

In summing up this 164 page book would be of interest to anyone whose relatives fought on this front, even those not directly involved in armoured warfare, military modellers, and anyone studying military history or planning to visit this area.
Overall a very well written, informative, and well laid out book which gives a wealth of detail and, with the high quality images, would make it easy to locate the various actions even today.

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